Read more: Neil Kinnock—Labour is not progressing under Corbyn
One hundred thousand more people have joined the Labour Party in the last few weeks, taking the membership to over half a million. Who are they? Why have they joined? What will they do? These are the crucial questions for everyone in the party.
There have only been two significant political events over the same period which could have possibly have been the cause.
The first was the referendum on the European Union (EU) and the narrow 52-48 victory for “Leave.” The second has been the unprecedented revolt of the Labour MPs. The resignations from the Shadow Cabinet and the frontbench which have left Corbyn unable to appoint a full team. And the vote in which 80 per cent of the PLP expressed their lack of confidence in him.
Which of these is the driving force? On this question the future of the Labour Party depends.
The EU campaign was a disaster for the Labour Party. A third of its voters deserted the party and voted “Leave.” This was a three-fold blow: without their support “Leave” would have struggled more than they did; a pro-EU position has been Labour policy for nearly thirty years; and the votes to “Leave” were highest in Labour’s heartland.
The party had run a lacklustre campaign. Corbyn’s lack of passion was manifest and his interventions half-hearted and ill-timed. There is no doubt that his leadership campaign last year enthused and mobilised young people who joined Labour to support him. He did not use or enthuse them this time—either directly or through his party-within-a-party Momentum. It is young people who feel the most betrayed by the vote to leave the EU, but is that true within the Labour Party?
I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but at my branch meeting this week—where attendance has more than trebled from an average of 6-8 two years ago—the EU was the central topic. Member after member spoke about their disbelief about the result and their anger at Labour’s campaign and in particular Corbyn’s role. There was a strong desire for a change of leader—though no agreement on an alternative to the current one. In this view, Peckham members have been well…